31 December 2009

Skywatch Friday - Equidae Sunset

Sunset in Lesotho provided some interesting material for Skywatch, like this donkey teathered on the side of a hill. I am very grateful that we have entered the digital era, because this fellow was very intent on eating and only raised his head after I had shot many frames.

For more great sky pictures from around the world go to the Skywatch site.

The Lesotho Experience

We have just got back from an enjoyable few days stay, with family in village, in Lesotho. Like so many things in life, unless you embrace the situation and go with the flow, it will be a disappointment. We went with the flow.

If you are prepared to embrace rough roads, no running water, porter potties or long drops and no electricity this is a holiday for you. Our water supply came from rain water tanks at the side of the house, which was fortunate, otherwise we would have been obliged to collect our water in containers from the village borehole.

These inconveniences are more than compensated for by the friendly people, the village life and the spectacular views, whether it is the countryside or a scene from the village.

The washing on this line was probably done by hand in a tin tub, after the water was collected from the borehole about 600 metres away. It makes me really appreciate our local laundry - in fact I will never complain about going to collect the laundry again.

24 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Well another year is coming to an end and I can hardly believe it is almost over. The last few months have been been a real treadmill of busy-ness, but it is now time to change gear and slow the pace down for a few weeks and have some quality famly time.

Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a really great New Year.


23 November 2009

Sleaze merchants

The sleaze merchants are back with a vengence, so I will reluctantly have to resort to word verification again. It's a pity that these characters feel obliged to fill other peoples blogs with their unwanted products and sleaze. Fortunately we do have the "delete permanently" button, so when they do strike they disappear just as quickly, but it is a waste of my time.

16 October 2009

Sky Watch Friday - Istanbul Sunset

Well it's getting late, but it's still Friday so here is a picture from our recent holiday to Turkey. This scene was shot from the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, looking West across the Golden Horn.

It was a balmy summers evening, with clear skies filled with sea gulls enjoying the dying hours of daylight. For more great picture visit the Sky Watch site.

15 October 2009

Baboon on the move

Baboons are a common sight in the Grootrivier Pass near Plettenberg Bay. The only problem is that they are always on the move, so getting a picture is not always easy. It is also not safe to stop on the narrow roads so I was pleased when I managed to photograph this young baboon.

Continuing with Cats

I personally do not like to see wild animals caged, but Tenikwa does give you the opportunity to get up close and personal. Like this pair of Caracals. We did stumble across one at the Addo Elephant Park a while back, and it was a joy to see. These animals are persecuted by farmers and are very shy and seldom seen.

The Serval was not vey cooperative and was determined not to allow us to get a decent phograph. Yes, even wild cats are wonderfully perverse creatures.

14 October 2009

Walking with Cheetahs

At the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre, we had the opportunity to walk with the Cheetahs.

They look like cats.........................

They purr like cats........................maybe a little louder...............

They have paws like dogs...............................................

It was a great experience to be walking with these big spotted felines.

13 October 2009

Life with Suzi - Creepy crawlies

Last night Suzi and I were sitting on the sofa when she let out a falsetto shriek and leapt off the couch and made a strategic withdrawal. I did not know what was happening and leapt up as well. She had seen a centipede crawling on my shoulder and it was in the process of climbing onto my face.

When I leapt up the centipede fell down and disappeared. I hunted high and low for it to no avail. I then sprayed liberal amounts of insect killer all around the sofa and the skirting boards. In the meantime Suzi was now sitting on one of the armchairs with her feet up and her skin crawling.

We carried on watching TV (constantly on the lookout for this creepy crawly) and about 15 minutes later I felt as though the skin on the lower left hand side of my back was crawling. I shifted forward, looked down and saw nothing and the sensation was gone. I made myself comfortable again and then saw a rather large centipede moving across my stomach. I quickly flicked it off me and onto the floor and then returned the compliment by walking on it. In the words of Monty Python, "It was no more, it had ceased to be, it had gone to meet its maker...." it was a late centipede.

I was not going to blog about this, but Shabby Girl did say, "I hope you all had a centipedelessly wonderful Monday!" Amazing how we shared similar experiences at about the same time, on opposite sides of the world.

10 October 2009


Zwelakhe, the leopard is one of the orphans at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. He is nine months old and already quite a handsome fellow.

His was the only cat enclosure we were not allowed to enter, because he is already quite big and is very playful and according to our guide can be quite rough. I was therefore happy not to go into his enclosue, as I do not want to be played with by a leopard. I have also heard that leopards do not teach their cubs to hunt, it comes natuarally to them.
Many farmers still trap and kill leopards, but organizations such as Tenikwa are doing a lot to educate farmers to rather capture and relocate them.

08 October 2009

Meet Edwina

Edwina the Marabou Stork really gives a new meaning to the word "ugly" - in a comical way. Lets face it she is no beauty, but she has character.
If you want to meet her she resides at the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre at the Crags, near Plettenberg Bay. Tenikwa is noted for being a wild cat sanctuary, but I can't resist the birds.

After our tour with the wild cats we went into the bird sanctuary and then discovered that Edwina is not only ugly, she is also vey friendly. Just give an invitation and she will climb on your lap.

This was more fun than stroking the cheetahs. The only problem is that when you get up to leave she nips at your rear end.

I will post some cat pictures soon.

Life with Suzi - Holding Hands

Suzi and I were recently walking hand-in-hand along a narrow passage way to the parking lot at the St Georges Hospital. Coming up from behind us, at a brisk was a young woman, so we stepped aside to let he pass.

"No please carry on," she said remaining where she was. "I am really enjoying this," she continued, "I only wish that when I get to such a good age that my husband still holds my hand."

We smiled at her and continued walking. When we climbed into our car we looked at each other and burst out laughing. We had never thought of ourselves as having reached a "good age".

Soon after we had met Suzi and I were at a party and were standing together holding hands, when a friend came up and told us that when we were married as long as she was we would stop holding hands. When we asked her how long she had been married, she replied, "Six months."

That was just over 33 years ago. I guess some things never change and when we get to an even better age we will still be holding hands.

05 September 2009

Bulgarian Cameos #3 - Transport

You will see a lot of new cars on the roads in Bulgaria, with a good mix of Trabants, Ladas and Skodas from a bygone era. But the the donkey cart is still a widely used form of transport throughout the country.

You will find that a large percentage of villagers have a donkey and a cart, though some have swapped the donkey for a tractor.

When we were in the village of Srem, a most heinous crime was commited when someone's donkey was shot. The perpetrator was never found and is still on the loose and some wag was heard to say, "You can shoot my wife, but not my donkey."

01 September 2009

Bulgarian Cameos #2 - Graffiti

Graffiti artists seem to crawl out of the woodwork wherever you go - it is just the spelling that varies.
I assume that this example of graffiti, seen in Elhovo was not Bulgarian as it was not written in Cyrillic script.

31 August 2009

And they said it could not be done!

When we got back from our holiday recently I had a good laugh as we drove past the Mount Road Police station and saw all this scaffolding in place.

When the moves were still afoot to build the 10111 call centre at Richmond Park, the developers vehemently rejected all our suggestions to convert part of the police station into the call centre. There were many "good" reasons for this, which suddenly dissipated when the development was stopped at Richmond Hill. It just goes to show that you can never trust the spin.

This is only a temporary measure to gear up for the 2010 World Cup Soccer and until the new centre is built on the site in Korsten.

30 August 2009

Bulgarian Cameos #1 - Shipka Pass

When you see a scene like this one at the top of the Shipka Pass, it is difficult to imagine that four fierce battles were fought here during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878).

The Russo-Turkish War resulted in the defeat of the Turks and brought an end to 500 years of Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. If you are interested, you can read all about the war on Wikipaedia.

23 August 2009

Time for sunshine

These sunflowers were photographed near Kazanlak in the Valley of the Roses in Bulgaria. Though they had their backs to me they nevertheless put on a cheerful display.

Kazanlak is probably one of the largest rose oil producing area in the world. By the time we passed through the roses had been harvested, but the visit to the Rose Museum was interesting. Apparently it takes one hectare of roses to produce one litre of rose oil. No wonder it fetches around €6,000 a litre.

These roses were photographed in the car park outside the Rose Museum.

22 August 2009

A time of sadness and a time of joy

I have not been able to bring myself to blog for just over a month, which has been filled with mixed emotions.

While we were on holiday we received a call to say that my younger sister had suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and was in a coma. She passed away that evening. I never expected my "baby sister" to die before me, so her passing came as a tremendous shock. I am still trying to come to terms with her not being with us, and I still hope that it is just a bad dream.

Whenever I think of Joyce, I think of her as my little sister, because that is how I referred to her when I was a kid. From an early age she was a person with a strong character. She knew what she wanted, she was not influenced by popular opinion, she could assert herself and was not afraid to hold back, she also had a sharp wit and a good brain.

My sisters and I had a tradition of having our photos taken together, which started when we were still small. As kids mother would periodically decide it was time for our photos to be taken. Spontaneous or candid shots were not done. All the shots had to be carefully posed, but first of all we would be bathed and scrubbed and put into our best clothes and go through an afternoon of what could best be described as "kiddies hell." We would have preferred to be playing, but looking back now I realise our mother left us with a legacy of treasured photos that bring back many memories.

We had a great childhood. We played and laughed and argued and fought like any other siblings and always stood up for one another, because we were family. Joyce, Charlette and I had a very close relationship and our times together was always very special. Joyce always retained her no nonsense approach to life and her sharp wit and could always be relied upon to be unconventional. She also always sought the best for her two daughters and her granddaughter.

I am really going to miss my little sister.

Yet in the sadness there was also joy, with the arrival of our third grandchild Jonathan, a delightful little boy, who needless to say is going to be spoilt rotten by me. Just one look at that littlle guy and I was totally besotted.

09 July 2009

Pammukale - the Cotton Castle

These are not snow covered slopes, but the travertine at Pammukale, in Turkey. The side of the hill is covered with calcium deposits from the natural springs, which occur naturally as the water flows down the hill.

On the hill above the travertine is the ancient city of Heiropolis, where people came to bathe in the springs from about 2 BC. I will devote a few posts to Heiropolis later, as it is a fascinating place.

Pammukale has been declared a world heritage site, by UNESCO, but only after it had been unprotected for years. The authorities have done a lot to restore the place to its former glory and it is well worth a visit - in fact it is absolutely stunning.

This is a view of the natural pools from the top of the travertine.

27 June 2009

Getting high

Today was such a high that I have decided not to follow the holiday chronologically. We are in Goreme staying at the Shoe String Cave Hotel - yes we are living as cave dwellers but the highlight was the ballon trip this morning.

Up at 4:30 am and off to the launch. Sue is standing in front of the balloon as it is inflated.

A view of Goreme village just after take off. The place is renowned for cave dwellings, which I will write about later

There were at least twenty balloons in the sky.

I felt cheated when we started dropping into the valley - I wanted to soar with the eagles, but that was soon to change as our pilot Mustafah gave us a closer view of the rock formations.\
Other pilots had the same idea as we entered Love Valley at tree top level. These rock formations are unique in the world.

"Mummy why is it called Love Valley?" I did not hear mummy's reply. I'm still trying to figure it out myself.
A Cappadocian tapestry - from being at tree top level we are soon high up in the sky. Nothing could have prepared us for the experience. It was absolutely amazing floating up there in a big basket out in the open air.
All too soon we are back on terra firma - our pilot very skillfully put the basket onto the back of the trailer saving the guys some heavy work.

It cost an arm and a leg but was really worth every Lira.

22 June 2009

Istanbul Transport

What Suzi-k and I have learnt about Istanbul, is that having a car is not quite the asset here as it is at home. From what I have seen though, is that one does not so much drive as negotiate your way through the traffic. You don't want to be behind the wheel in these streets.

Fortunately the public transport system is amazing, whether you take the tram train, seen here in front of the University.........................

......or this delightful old tram we travelled on this morning.

Today we went to the Galata Tower, which gives a 360 degree view of the city. Where do I start the views are just awesome. I think I will devote a separate post to that trip.

I ended the night taking shots in the main street at Sultanahmet. I managed to find a camera shop in the Galata where I bought a tripod for TL15. I have missed out on some awesome shots by not having found it sooner.

21 June 2009


So my side bar does say that I am celebrating the beauty of the Eastern Cape, but that is about to change as Suzi-k and I are in Istanbul. After a nine and a half hour journey we arrived yesterday morning. Wow, were those seats uncomfortable! But I wont go there - let me just accept taht as part of the pain of getting here.

We have arrived and love the place. The Mavi Guest House, in the Sultanamet is home for now. The sense of history is amazing. We are within a stones throw of the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, and the Roman Cistern built in the sixth century to name a few. Across the road is what remains of the old city wall.

The Blue Mosque, viewed from across a park in the Sultanamet.

The streets are narrow and cobbled and wherever you go there are people plying their wares. Cars seem to travel in both directions, making liberal use of their horns. This narrow street, running down from the Topkapi Palace, like so many from around the world has not been immune from the graffiti artists.

Yesterday evening we strolled down to the Bosphorus and bought our evening meal from the street vendors. Good food at reasonable prices and Max friendly (for those who don't know I am fanatical about having heart friendly food) - but best of all was the experience.

A view of the Bosphorus Bridge taken by Suzi-k. To the left is Europe and the right Asia

The Galata Bridge crosses the Golden Horn. Beneath it you can take your choice of restaurants. If you look carefully, you will see the fishermen crowding the top of the bridge. All they pull out are little fish that would feel at home in a sardine tin, but there seems to be no restriction on size, as none get thrown back. I could not help wondering how many unsuspecting folk on the lower deck have had a fish hook through the ear.

What would one of my posts be without a sunset. This view is looking up the Golden Horn - quite appropriate

We travelled back to Sultanamet by tram as we did not relish the long walk back. For one Turkish Lira we felt the price was reasonable.

10 June 2009

Aloes in profusion

It does not matter what time of the year it is, but there is always something flowering in the Eastern Cape. It is now aloe season and they are putting on a spectacular show of colour.

I took these pictures of what I think are the aloe ferox near Cookhouse earlier today.